Is chocolate healthy for you? It depends on the chocolate, since not all chocolate is created equal.
Chocolate and health are only a beneficial combo if it’s the right kind of chocolate – as in dark chocolate.
In fact, intervention studies on healthy and metabolically-dysfunctional volunteers have suggested that cocoa improves blood pressure, platelet aggregation and endothelial function.i
There are plenty of studies on the benefits of dark chocolate, however, most people don’t eat chocolate in a pure 60% cacao or higher form!
Current research also demonstrates that it can even boost attention span during the afternoon slump.
In a recent study, Larry C Stevens, from Northern Arizona University (Arizona, USA), and colleagues utilized electroencephalography (EEG) to observe the acute electrical changes in the brains of people after they consumed dark chocolate. Enrolling 122 men and women, ages 18 to 25 years, a subgroup of subjects were assigned to consume chocolate containing 60% cacao. ii
What they found was that those who consumed the 60% cacao were more alert and attentive after consumption.
A meta-analysis also demonstrated the beneficial effects of dark chocolate as it relates to LDL cholesterol.
Ten clinical trials consisting of 320 participants were included in the analysis. Treatment duration ranged from 2 to 12 weeks. Intervention with dark chocolate/cocoa products significantly reduced serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol. iii
What’s the ideal serving size for health benefits?
A small square of dark chocolate, no more than 6.7 grams per day. Not only is it important to indulge in moderation, but it’s also important to choose a non-GMO dark chocolate, ideally with less than 2 grams of sugar per 6.7 grams of chocolate.
Have a favorite chocolate bar – 60% cacao or greater?
ii Northern Arizona University. “Eat dark chocolate to beat the midday slump?.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150508140302.htm (accessed August 9, 2015).